Larne & District Great War Society’s ‘A Bigger Goal to Score’ booklet launch
In the presence of the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Maureen Morrow, chairman Alan Rice presented a cheque for £1,000 to Michael O’Toole, local representative of this year’s nominated charity, the Royal Air Forces Association.
The aim of the society to remember all of the fallen is reflected in the society’s badge, which incorporates symbols to represent the army, airmen, seamen and medics. Thus, the previous nominated charity was ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity and next year’s will be the Shipwrecked Fishermen & Mariners’ Society.
As of February 2020, the society has donated around £2,500 to various charities in its short existence.
This year, the presentation was combined with the launch of the society’s first booklet, ‘A Bigger Goal To Score’, penned by secretary Paul Duffin.
It tells the story of football in the Larne area at the time of World War One and the footballers who served during that conflict. Among the 18 featured, some emigrated and returned from across the world to fight, some continued to play the game on the Western Front while shrapnel fell around them and some were so keen on the game that they sent home a request for playing gear while prisoners of war in Germany. Unfortunately seven of the men did not see the end of the war.
The book details how Larne Comrades were among the small local clubs who revived the game, winning the Hanna Cup, which was competed for by the Co Antrim posts of the Comrades of the Great War.
The story ends with the resurrection in 1922 of the local senior club at their new home provided by the local branch of the British Legion.
Larne & District Great War Society was formed on August 19, 2017 to commemorate the fallen of the Great War from the Larne area and to perpetuate their memory.
Members regularly pay respect at remembrance ceremonies and attend talks and exhibitions on relevant subjects.
In January 2018, the society held a small wreath-laying ceremony at the Gobbins War Memorial on the centenary of the death of one of those named on it, Captain William Victor Edwards, a former Ireland rugby international and champion swimmer who was the first to swim across the mouth of Belfast Lough.
Paul Duffin said: “We have assisted several people in researching family members who served and, after our chairman located an unmarked grave, we are assisting the family in an effort to have it marked by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
“The society has organised several trips to the Western Front. Other outings have been run to various places of interest within Northern Ireland and the Republic.
“A friendship has been formed with the Red Bay RNLI following a visit to their lifeboat station, which houses the binnacle of S.S. Gem, which was sunk by a mine on Christmas Day 1914. Among those lost were six men from the Glens of Antrim.
“This year is already shaping up to be as busy as the last two. Between April and June, we will be visiting Cavan and Dublin, paying respect at several Larne related graves and memorials in the south of England (also attending the Lee Rigby Memorial football match while there) and returning to the Western Front.”